Installment No. 43
His mother was the first and only one to greet them. Did wonders never cease? Usually when he arrived she couldn’t manage to carve out a little time from her busy, busy business of running a wolf pack to deign even a formal Hello, German. This time, however, she descended the staircase like a blond Scarlet O’Hara, the flowing skirts of her ever-present gown eddying around her like an ocean current. Why she always wore long dresses he hadn’t a clue. Maybe because such attire seemed more fitting, more lady-of-the-manor-like? Nah. He’s mother was calculating, not melodramatic. A more useful purpose, perhaps? When he was younger, he thought she wore those dresses so she could shift into her wolf form without restriction. But the passing years taught him differently. As did her unflinching support for the New Order, where it was paramount to stay in touch with one’s human side.
He watched her now, dubious, alert, suspicious. Like he knew she’d been waiting for them to enter: the archetypal wolf hunting the wary fawn. She descended the staircase with her usual grace. Lethal. Regal. As befitted an Alpha female. That she shared her power with three unworthy males had perplexed German since he’d first become aware of the pack’s new politics. To say it confused his wolf was like saying the Titanic bumped into an ice cube: gross understatement. Four ruling alphas had him shaking his puppy head in consternation. The growling started once he got older, his wolf having never accepted such a ludicrous notion.
Her grand march down the stairs over, his mother approached him and Sofia as any alpha would, even her human body language commanding their attention. Kyrenn was tall for a woman, lithe, her pale hair offsetting chocolate brown eyes. Deep eyes, which could penetrate like a stabbing blade or hide a thought like a curtain drawn. His earliest memories of those eyes were of them shining with pride, laughing. But as he’d grown older, his puppy play evolving into personal challenges, he’d learned about the blade in those beautiful eyes. As he grew, the smile of a doting mother disintegrated into disenchantment. Sad, but he couldn’t exactly wear a horse suit if he was a tiger. Just. Didn’t. Fit.
Since his mother had mastered the human way of masking intent, he watched those dark eyes for any hint of aggression or disdain, and automatically stepped forward to safeguard his mate when his mother halted, her nostrils widening almost imperceptibly.
Not trusting the fissure in Kyrenn’s usual faultless veneer, German kept Sofia partially shielded as he took his mother’s outstretched hands in his own, brushing a chaste kiss to her cheek in the way humans greeted one another. Another edict of the New Order. So, so false.
“You’re mated.” Molasses eyes met his.
Reproach? He couldn’t tell. But most likely. The Alpha would see his mating in the old way as another insult.
“I could smell it a mile away.” Fart. Church. German ignored the slur, as he’d been doing his entire adult life.
“Mother. My mate, Sofia.” So much pride burst from him at his announcement, laying waste to his misgivings, annihilating them like a nuclear bomb. He stepped aside to present his gorgeous red she-wolf, his smile blasting from his face so hard he thought he radiated yellow crayon lines like a child’s drawing of the sun. His mother’s insult lay on the ground like a discarded bike, forgotten by the kid who sees something shinier. Better.
“The rogue.” Kyrenn’s gaze swooped down then dragged upward, calculating every square inch of the young woman in front of her. “Welcome.” Gray eyes met chocolate, fixating like movies were playing within the pupils of each. It was his mother who turned, walking away with an air of casual disdain. “Dinner is being served in an hour. We will expect your attendance.”
German watched her rigid back as she disappeared behind one of the great oak doors leading off to another room. A growl expanded in his chest, anger threatening his sun like a storm cloud. A cool hand closed around his, soft as a late winter breeze carrying the hint of spring. Of renewal. Hope.
He squeezed those fingers like a drowning man, burrowed his face into silky hair as Sofia sidled in close, her body molding to his like a soft leather glove.
“Queen Nefertiti much?”
His anger wilted under the force of her irreverent humor. Leave it to Sofia to cut the legs out from under affectations and lies. A cold worry gnawed at his gut on the heels of it, and he kept it close so as not to lose sight of it. Merging into the pack wasn’t going to be easy for either of them. But this was for Sofia, so he’d do what was necessary.
“Well, Mr. Darcy, you heard the lady.” Sofia nudged her nose into the air, her voice nasally. Then she barked a laugh. Not very lady-like, but damn, he needed the levity. Loved it. Craved it. Because it made him feel like they could do this, so long as Sofia was with him. Screwing proper behavior, German rubbed himself close to his woman, wedging himself in the cradle of her impertinent ass. He inhaled her scent like the ambrosia it was.
“Keep this up, wolf, and you’ll be showing me those secret passageways sooner rather than later. Dinner be damned.”
“Hmm-mm. Sounds fine by me.” He buried his face deeper into her red hair, content to ignore their lavish surroundings. True wealth lay just under his nose, in his arms, and had nothing to do with the enormous crystal chandelier glowing a good forty feet overhead, nor the marble tiling beneath his feet.
“Wolf.” Never was there a better retort.
“At your service.” He was always proud to be so. Hide his fur from humans, yes, but he would never deny what he was, what he loved being. Crash. The sound of hitting the earth face first. Reality trembled from behind the stage curtain, presenting its hideous self: his wolf denied.
The woman in his arms, however, was worth the sacrifice. Every insolent inch of her. “Come on, Red.” He tugged her toward the staircase his mother had just glided down. “My…our den is this way.”
~Installment No. 44 coming Saturday, April 12, 2014.